Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Theology Proper. Existence of God

In his book, Our God is Awesome, Tony Evans illustrates, “Once upon a time a scorpion needed to cross a pond. Wondering how he would get to the other side, he noticed a frog nearby. ‘Mr. Frog, will you please hop me across this pond?’ The kind, gentle frog said, ‘Certainly, Mr. Scorpion. I will be glad to do so.’

So Mr. Scorpion jumped onto Mr. Frog’s back as Mr. Frog hoped from pod to pod, bringing Mr. Scorpion to the other side of the pond. But just as the frog said, ‘Well, Mr. Scorpion, here we are,’ he felt an excruciating pain in his back. Mr. Scorpion had stung him.

As Mr. Frog lay dying, he looked up at Mr. Scorpion and said, ‘How could you do this? I brought you from one side of the pond to the other and now you sting me so that I die.’

Mr. Scorpion looked at Mr. Frog and said, ‘I can’t help it. It’s my nature’ (37).

The moral of the story is the following: it is important that you know the nature of the one you are dealing with. If you underestimate the nature of the one you are dealing with then you could have dire consequences. That is why it is so important that you do not err in your understanding of the nature and person of God. When you misunderstand the nature of God thus redefining your perspective of who God is, you will run amok in your spiritual life.

What is your image of God? Paul Little gives us a few pictures (Know What You Believe, (25-26) of God in the minds of people: “a pure mathematical mind” from Einstein; “a shadowy superhuman cloud or force”; “a ball of fire ready to consume us”; “sparks of life to which we will be reunited”; “a sentimental grandfather in the sky”; or “a fearful celestial policeman.” To many people God is a vending machine who dispenses whatever we want based upon how good we live or how obedient we are to His commands. Are these correct images of God? Can we shape God into whatever form we choose to meet our needs? Of course not.

A philosopher once said, “God created man in His own image, and man returned the favor.” When we look to ourselves to define who God is we make fools of ourselves and misinterpret God. We fashion Him into some unscriptural superman. Paul explains that the lack of knowledge of who God results in idolatry. “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory if the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures” (Romans 1:22-23). Then Paul uses the refrain “God gave them over” three times to explain the result of men who exchange the true God for a counterfeit one.
Let’s look at a few counterfeit views of God:

1. Atheism. The belief that it is impossible to know that God exists. Another form of atheism is the belief that there is a possibility of God’s existence but He is limited in power and sovereignty (Psalm 14:1).
2. Deism. The belief in an infinite God but chooses not to intervene into His creation.
3. Agnosticism. The belief that it is impossible to really know that God exists because of a lack of empirical proof.
4. Polytheism. The belief that there are many gods.
5. Pantheism. The belief that God exists in everything.

All of these are counterfeit views of God and are not supported by Scripture. Before looking at God’s Word to help us understand who this God is, let’s be up front about one thing: can anyone verify God’s existence? No! There is no way to place God under a scientific microscope and study His existence. However, just because one cannot prove God’s existence does not mean that He does not exist anymore than denying the emotion of love because you can’t see it.

Spurgeon once said, “When you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.” One evidence of God’s existence (though I admit it has its weaknesses) is the moral argument. Each person possesses a desire to worship someone/something higher than us. If we are all honest with ourselves, we have to admit that there is something greater than ourselves in this universe. Blasé Pascal once remarked that all of us have a “God-shaped vacuum.” Within us all there is an appeal to some standard of right and wrong. Civilizations have been built upon moral values. Where do they come from? Solomon explains to us that God “has set eternity in their hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). If there is a moral compass within us, does that not point to a moral Lawgiver who has made us in His own image (Genesis 1:26)?

“For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:14-15).

Another evidence of God’s existence is the teleological argument. Some of you have heard of the illustration of Mount Rushmore.

In an article on intelligent design, William Dembski writes, “To see what’s at stake, consider Mount Rushmore. The evidence for Mount Rushmore’s design is direct—eyewitnesses saw the sculptor Gutzon Borglum spend the better part of his life designing and building this structure. But what if there were no direct evidence for Mount Rushmore’s design? What if humans went extinct and aliens, visiting the earth, discovered Mount Rushmore in substantially the same condition as it is now? In that case, what about this rock formation would provide convincing circumstantial evidence that it was due to a designing intelligence and not merely to wind and erosion? Designed objects like Mount Rushmore exhibit characteristic features or patterns that point to an intelligence. Such features or patterns constitute signs of intelligence.”

The universe has design. It is not chaotic, but possesses order. If there is an arranged blueprint set in place for this universe, does this not point to the possibility of a Designer who has established and ordained this universe? (Isaiah 45:18).

A third evidence for the existence of God is the cosmological argument. Derived from the word cosmos, the argument presupposes that there is a cause for every effect. When you look around in our world (cosmos), one must ask, “What is the origin of these things?” Is it reasonable that our universe came into being through chance or by accident? What are the possibilities that our universe came into existence through a primordial “big-bang”? Some are questioning this argument today. In a recent movie, What the Bleep Do We Know, 14 scientists and mystics attempt to explain the meaning of our existence. They argue that this world is its own first cause coming in and out of existence on its own. Yet, their arguments (effect) come from their philosophies (cause).

A fourth evidence of God’s existence is the ontological argument. The word ontology is from the Greek word meaning “being.” Even though a weak argument, some suggest that God must exist if He can be conceived in within the mind. If one can conceive of a greater Being than ourselves, does it point to the existence of a God? Many Christians are hesitant to promote this argument for various reasons. Not only is there is a lack of objective support but also simply saying that something exists because one conceives it is liking stating “flying pink elephants exist because one thinks of them.”

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